It’s December and you know what that means, another NaNoWriMo has come to an end. Thirty days of writing, panic, stressing, increased caffeine intake, planning, plotting, begging, and time-wasting. Now that it’s December you can sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and know that it’s all over.
In this article we’re going to look at the aftermath of NaNo. Was it a thrilling success? Or a steaming pile of “What in the world did I just write?” Even if you didn’t reach the 50K words, you’re still considered a winner in some fashion.
The Last 30 Days
When you first began this 30 day challenge, the entire road is open and cleared for you to write. You might already have known some of the forthcoming obstacles of the month which Life had prepared to throw at you; including Thanksgiving, but aside from that, it’s a clear path ahead.
Now at this end of the month, you can look back and see what happened if you didn’t achieve your goal of 50K words. As we had discussed in “Life and NaNo” there is always something waiting in the wings to trip you up and slow you down: An illness in the family, an extra project at work, or something simple like, “Hey, the new episodes of my favorite show are now available, I’ll write later.”
For 2016 one of the biggest distractions was the presidential election and goings on before and after it. Never in the history of elections had one been as bizarre and controversial as this one. Even if you can’t stand politics and the candidates chosen, it’s hard to not to peek at what’s going on and why they said this and that. In addition, each individual state had political issues to vote on, new candidates to vote for, or old ones to retain.
One of the things that could have been done, in regards to your writing, is to use the activity of the elections as fuel for your story; whether it’s a character running for office or making a statement similar to what was said. If you’re going to eat up time that way, at least take some notes for your story.
The Winner’s Circle
For those of you who made it to 50K, regardless of how long it took you, congratulations on a job well done! I know that there are some who managed to finish in just a couple of weeks; primarily through dedication to the task at hand or Word Wars with fellow writers. If you’ve never been in a word war, might I suggest one the next time you write? All you do is set a time limit; say, ten or twenty minutes and the two of you (or more) write as many words as you can before the time runs out. It’s a great way to generate more words plus it adds a competitive edge to keep you focused.
For those who won, how much of your first draft is salvageable? There’s a reason it’s called a rough draft in that most of what you write is fairly rough. A friend of mine stated that although he didn’t win, the only thing worth saving was the title. Now that’s pretty rough! Either way, you have a basic foundation in which you can spend a little more time developing certain characters which may have shined better than others, scenes which may have unexpectedly cropped up, or a subplot which turned out better than you could have imagined.
Reaching the Finish Line
For those who didn’t achieve the 50K goal and get your manuscript validated, it’s quite all right. Sure you didn’t “win” but you at least made the attempt and you have more words that when you started. It’s still a foundation from which you can further develop scenes, characters, and subplots.
Before you decide to chuck everything into the bin might I made a suggestion? Stick it in a folder, forget about it during December and then drag it back out at the start of the New Year. You may view it differently after ignoring it for an entire month. Remember: To grow something, you have to shovel a lot of manure. Your manuscript may look like nothing but a pile of drivel but after a month of ignoring it, you might be able to find a gem of an idea, or a character that made its way into the foreground and caused you to stop and take notice of them.
For right now, enjoy the holiday season and know that you survived another 30 Day challenge; with or without your sanity intact. Catch up on some much needed sleep, apologize to all family and friends you may have offended, and get outside and see what’s going on in the world that you ignored for the those last 30 days.
How Did I Do?
For me was a failure in regards to making it to 50K. I came in just under 39K and pretty much stopped altogether on the 27th. What surprised me this year is that I ran out of story before I ran out of words. That’s never happened to me in all of the previous challenges that I finished. I had skipped an entire chapter and one crucial scene because I wanted to get to the rest of the story, but I never made it back to them before the end. I even added a couple thousand words in side story ideas which eventually will generate a separate book idea.
My biggest drawback was a lack of communication with my fellow writers during the month. I don’t have an internet connection at my apartment and going to work at 4am made me miss all of the local write-in events. Still I had one friend who I kept in contact with during the month and we encouraged one another throughout the event.
The other drawback was my desire to watch DVDs of shows which I’ve seen hundreds of times plus getting them in the mail for shows that I haven’t seen. I attempted to use them as a reward system for getting so many words done, but it’s hard to watch just one episode of a show and not want to keep watching the rest on the disc.
Overall, another 30-day challenge has come and gone. Take the time to reflect on the days that you wrote, what stopped you, and see if you can’t improve for the next time you take the challenge. Whether you reached the goal or not, congratulate yourself for trying and writing some words which can become your next novel.
So how did you do in the challenge? Did you win? Give up? Share with me your accomplishments and hardships during the November challenge in the comments below. Make suggestions on how one can improve the next time you sit down to write.